If you get into a car accident, one of the first things you'll probably do is try to figure out whether you're injured. The mental checklist might go something like, "Am I in pain? Is anything bleeding? Have I lost feeling anywhere in my body?" If the answer to these is no, you might assume that you are fine.
But what if you are hurt and don’t even know it? There could be damage inside your body that you don’t notice yet. It’s important to know what to look for and how long it might take to notice. Here are a few things to watch out for.
In a car accident, your body absorbs a lot of the sudden impact. But you might not feel the resulting pain immediately. Whiplash is a common injury where your neck feels extremely sore and stiff—even resulting in dizziness and blurred vision in serious cases. But it might not show up until the next day or even later.
Internal bleeding, spinal damage or concussions can also result from an auto accident. The effects of these injuries might not be apparent for a few days or even longer. Just because you feel fine now doesn’t mean that you aren’t hurt.
There is also a chance of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a car accident. You could walk away from the accident feeling all right, but the mental effects can show up months or even years later. Here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Flashbacks, either while awake or asleep
- Mood swings
- Nervousness and anxiety
For physical injuries, symptoms may weaken over time. But PTSD can flare up again even years later, especially around situations that are similar to the original cause. Seeing a mental health professional early on could help you get the treatment you need to avoid repeated trauma down the road.
You may want to go to the hospital even if you don’t feel any symptoms immediately following an accident. A medical examination could reveal injuries you didn’t know had happened at all. Identifying these injuries head-on can help you reduce the damage before it gets any worse—and ensure you get the full compensation you deserve.